Employer as Hero

Many generations ago, and up until recently as the Baby Boomers were entering the workforce, employers were once looked upon by their workers with lifelong loyalty. People would get a job and stay until retirement. After all, most employers offered a livable wage, paid family healthcare and a pension that would take care of the employee and their spouse through their retirement.

As I started my career in Human Resources, I was witness to this type of relationship. When I became a HR Manager, the company I worked for offered a Pension Plan, which was what they called the 401k plan with a hefty 50% employer match no limit, a Severance Plan which was a defined benefit plan that provided employees with a fully company funded 30% of the average of the highest 3 years of salary, fully paid family health and dental, life insurance, long term disability, paid vacation which increased with every year of service to total 4 weeks paid after 10 years of service, 6 paid sick days and two personal days. You can understand why no one wanted to leave.

The employer package landscape has changed immensely! Employee attitudes have also changed. Loyalty is not a typical behavior and even with the rough job market, the typical 20-30 something feels their career is not with one employer. In addition, most employers are seeking less expensive options in a younger less experienced workforce. What makes these less experienced workers very attractive is their lack of fear of technology and they don’t seem to be concerned with the same issues of generations past that raise the cost of hiring - retirement, healthcare, disability and other insurances.

However, that inexperience can be a shortcoming. Perhaps as the employer, you need the talent of the more experienced worker to keep your company productive, not spend the training time that slows your ability to be proactive and seize opportunities. You can acquire that talent and retain it and come off as a hero if you can provide an advantage. That advantage is in what you have to offer and at as little cost as possible.

Think supplemental benefits. Do not substitute them for the paid benefits you already offer. That will lower the effect. Just make sure you are aware of what your industry is offering and keep in line with that. Then feel free to add great opportunities for your employees with voluntary benefits.

A big plus for employers are simply that they can offer a benefit with little cost to them other than administrative costs; offering voluntary benefits may dovetail with changes related to the Affordable Care Act, particularly if the employer is increasing cost-sharing or reducing benefits. Companies can offer a wider array of benefits, giving employees more control and more options. Employers benefit by offering employees something they want, often something they have been exposed to through advertising and another big advantage is that the benefits may improve employee morale and bring peace of mind to employees concerned about potential medical expenses.

Employees have a number of reasons they like voluntary benefits. These benefits are available to employees at less than what they would pay if sold individually; they also have underwriting advantages like guaranteed issuance or the guarantee of the availability of future “buy-up” options. Employees like choice. Voluntary benefits allow flexibility for employees to decide which additional products and services they want or don’t want and they can choose how they want to establish or fill in their financial portfolio. Making it simple and painless for them by payroll deduction. Small payments from each paycheck may be easier to handle than an annual or quarterly payment that is often required from outside vendors. Providing employees with access to services they may not typically be able to find or don’t have the time to research and create their own safety net.  Especially for employees who live “paycheck to paycheck,” a benefit can help them avoid a financially disastrous large expense. Even relatively short interruptions in pay due to disability or sickness can be devastating for paycheck-to-paycheck earners.

One huge plus for employer and employees, the vendors that offer these benefits all provide employee education, enrollment and administration assistance so the most an employer has to do is schedule the meeting and set up the payroll deductions.

Low to no cost, very little effort and a big plus for employees – Be a hero.